Hit by a Drunk Driver in San Luis Obispo?
Let One of Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Help
Sadly, accidents caused by drunk driving are one of the most common occurrences in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 29 people on average were killed in alcohol-related car accidents every 50 minutes in 2016. Nationwide, drunk driving accidents are an epidemic that claims more than 10,000 lives each year. Injuries from drunk driving can range from minor to fatal. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, then make sure you have an experienced accident attorney by your side to protect your rights.
At James McKiernan Lawyers, our drunk driving accident lawyers are collectively responsible for obtaining millions of dollars in settlements over the past three decades for their clients. Our firm’s founder, James McKiernan is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive organization that reserves membership to individuals who have won million-dollar settlements; less than one percent of all working lawyers in the U.S. can say they are members. Together with his associates, he has built a reputation for impassioned dedication for clients in the greater San Luis Obispo area.
Can I File a Claim If the Drunk Driver Was Arrested?
It is a criminal offense to drive drunk in most states. In the state of California, a person is considered intoxicated when his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent or higher. The person can be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol to be arrested for a DUI/DWI. Drivers of commercial vehicles are held to an even stricter standard — if a truck driver is pulled over and found to have a BAC of .04 percent or more, he or she can be arrested for drunk driving.
The consequences and damages incurred in every drunk driving case vary widely. However, there are general guidelines that can usually be called upon to help determine which claim you should file; your accident attorney will help you with this process. When you are injured in a drunk driving accident and the driver was arrested, then you will most likely file a personal injury claim against the driver based on negligence. The arrest can be powerful evidence in your civil claim.
If the driver was not arrested, however, then an experienced accident attorney can gather evidence that proves that the driver did not comply with his or her civic duty. This duty refers to the responsibility that every driver assumes when he or she gets behind the wheel; in other words, it is every driver’s duty to drive sober and in a safe manner. You must provide proof in your claim that the driver’s breach of this assumed social contract is what caused the accident.
What Are Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Accident Cases?
When you file a personal injury claim against an individual, he or she can be held personally responsible for “punitive damages”. Under California Civ. Code § 3294, the accuser (the plaintiff) holds the right to seek damages in instances where “the defendant has been found guilty of oppression” and can in fact “recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant”. In order to be awarded punitive damages, however, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was liable.
Punitive damages — also referred to as “exemplary” damages — are usually only awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were dangerous in a way that exceeds normal negligence. For this reason, most car accident claims do not result in punitive damages. However, if the driver who caused your accident had a history of drunk driving arrests or committed another offense, then you may be able to claim these damages. An experienced drunk driving accident attorney can advise you on your right to claim different types of compensation.
Hurt in a DUI Accident? Call Our San Luis Obispo Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
If you have been a victim — or you have suffered the death of a loved one — due to a drunk driver, consider hiring an experienced accident attorney to represent and uphold your rights in a court of law. No amount of money can make up for the emotional and physical trauma you have endured from a drunk driving accident, but it can help you on the road to recovery towards a brighter future. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your drunk driving accident claim.